As the Cleveland Indians continue their march to hopefully another postseason appearance, Wahoo’s on First is bringing back the Power Rankings, this time in a weekly format. The weekly rankings will look at the Tribe’s most valuable for the week while accounting season performance. Below is the initial examination of the most impactful contributors of the week that was.
10. Nick Swisher – Swisher is included on this list not as a slight to the founder of Brohio, but as recognition for him making the very tough decision to hang up the spikes this season. After receiving a second opinion, he elected to undergo arthroscopic surgery this past Wednesday on both of his knees, ending his 2014 campaign. His stat lines, including a .208 batting average, were definitely a letdown for both he and the club, and surely his ailing knees contributed to this. Cleveland, as well as Swisher, will benefit from this operation, and, without a doubt, Swisher’s outgoing personality, which no operation can damper, will still be vital during this stretch run.
9. Zach Walters – Albeit tough to put a guy on this list who only mustered a .227 OBP over the past seven days, Walters contributed three home runs over that span, tops on the team. Additionally, Walters fourth homerun of his Indians career occurred just nine days ago and was of the walk-off variety. He is receiving regular time at the dish and will hopefully continue to contribute a bit of pop at the plate.
8. Scott Atchison – Atchison led Tribe relievers in innings pitched over the last week, notching 4.2 IP. Over the span of those four games and 17 AB, he allowed just three hits, gave up no runs, and allowed no hits. Also of note, he signed an extension with the club, keeping him a Cleveland Indian at least through the end of next season. Certainly a steady week in what’s been a rather impressive season.
7. T.J. House – The rookie lefthander contributed a great performance during an important start this week, giving Terry Francona 5.1 scoreless innings against the Twins. He struck out five, bringing his season total to 49 in 66.1 IP. Overall, he has had an impressive August, allowing just three earned runs over the span of 16.1 innings, but, over that span, he has also allowed 21 baserunners. As long as he can continue to find a way to strand those runners, he will make a case for being on the list.
6. Michael Bourn – Bourn was recalled from the DL last Friday, and since then, he has been a solid contributor. Over the last seven days, Bourn is second on the team in OBP (.429) and fourth in OPS (.741). In Thursday’s loss to Minnesota, he worked an 11 pitch walk during an eighth inning at bat against Casey Fien. At-bats like that will continue to be important during the stretch run and can easily swing the momentum during any individual game.
5. Jason Kipnis – Admittedly, Kipnis is this high based mostly on his alleged pre-season value. His line this week was not anything stellar, but it was solid. Kipnis, who had been batting leadoff before Bourn returned, could benefit from the drop in the order. In fact, in 13 games this season batting fifth for the Tribe, he is hitting .340/.375/.491. Kipnis batted fifth on Thursday, and, hopefully for both he and the Tribe, he settles in quickly to a new home in the lineup.
4. Carlos Carrasco – Carrasco has found redemption, and he found it at the best time for the Tribe. Carrasco beat the Orioles on August 16th, hurling seven scoreless, allowing just three hits, no walks, and striking out five. He has started twice in August, and over those twelve innings, he has allowed a total of five hits, no walks, and struck out 9. With Tomlin, Salazar, and McAllister not able to contribute regularly in the starting rotation, Carrasco’s re-emergence as a potential starter is huge for Cleveland.
3. Carlos Santana – Santana would have easily been top-five player preseason, but during the first half, many would have considered striking his name from any top 10 power ranking list altogether. That makes his appearance at number three all the more impressive. Over the last seven days, Santana is batting .316/.458/.579, all tops except slugging, which he trails only Walters and Mike Aviles. He led the Tribe in runs (tied with three), walks (five), doubles (two), and he only succumbed to the strikeout three times in 24 plate appearances. His continued offensive output, especially at 1B, is surely attributable to the Tribe winning its last two series.
2. Michael Brantley – It is hard to imagine a scenario where Brantley and Kluber are not one and two moving forward. Brantley, Cleveland’s lone All-Star representative, had an off week. Brantley only reached base twice in 24 plate appearances (two hits, two walks) over the last seven days, but he did lead the team in stolen bases with two. He still leads the team in most offensive categories. It bodes well for Cleveland that the team went 4-2 on the week with their offensive MVP slumping. Brantley’s .091 batting average this week opened the door for Kluber to grab the number one spot.
1. Corey Kluber – Corey Kluber became the first Tribe pitcher since CC Sabathia in 2007, Sabathia’s Cy Young season, to record 200 strikeouts on the year. Kluber, who now stands at 205Ks on the year, is certainly in contention for the 2014 Cy Young award. He pitched twice this week and allowed just four earned runs over 14.2 innings. He struck out 18 and walked six. Those four runs doubled the amount he had allowed since the All-Star break, and his loss was the first since June. Even with the “off” week, Kluber is very deserving of the number one spot.